Paul: Not the Author of Hebrews

Nick is bucking the trend and leaning towards Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Tisk, tisk...

I think the stylistic arguments are fine but my primary reason is the author’s pneumatology. Given the topics of the epistle (perseverance, good works, faith), Hebrew’s pneumatology is simply anemic compared to Paul’s. Paul talks about those topics, and the Spirit is usually in the center of his understanding of how Christians do what they do. That was one of the sub-points of my Master’s thesis, which tried to fit the pneumatology of Hebrews into the pneumatology of Second-Temple Judaism. The point wasn’t to compare him to Paul, but after thinking about it the difference between them seems fairly large to me. At some point I need to dust that bit of writing off and put in online...

Anyway, my two cents.


Bill Heroman (1/5/2009 9:07 PM)

Nice point. Very niiiice. :)

Craig L. Adams (1/8/2009 8:18 AM)

FWIW. Paul seems loath to speak of the Holy Spirit in Colossians. So, there is some variation within the (traditionally reputed to be) Pauline corpus. And, whether one believes the historical Paul wrote Colossians or not, the point about the letter’s pneumatology would not seem especially telling one way or another.

So, I’m thinking (at least this morning) that the point is not especially telling in this case either.

Angie Van De Merwe (1/9/2009 4:06 PM)

I would be interested to know if you think that Hebrews was a "tradition-keeping" book. In other words, it protected the interests of the "tradition" developing humans into "god’s image" based on the Jesus tradition...

Eric (1/11/2009 7:58 PM)

Bill: Thaaaaaanks.

Craig: Actually, Paul does something with the Spirit that the author of Hebrews never does (and this is a huge point, methinks), he links the Spirit with moral rectitude in Col 1:7. It is not that the author of Hebrews doesn’t mention the Spirit (he does) but that he doesn’t link it to ethical living which is standard stuff in Paul.

That in and of itself is not necessarily convincing for sure. It is the fact that Hebrews revolves around persevering in faith in God. Not linking that with the Spirit is about as un-Pauline as I can imagine.

Angie: That has never really struck me as I read the epistle. Clearly he is attempting to persuade his readers to persevere in a way that is pleasing to God which you could say is an attempt to develop them into God’s image. And I would imagine that this was at least somewhat related to whatever Jesus tradition that the author knew. But the idea doesn’t strike me as particularly obvious in the work. Did you have anything in particular in mind?

Denis (3/11/2009 11:58 AM)

I am always amazed when this debate about the authorship of Hebrews arises that no-one seems to hearken back to the large treatment in favour of the Pauline authorship done so long ago and completely exhaustively linguistically (and, for my part, completely convincingly), and especially focussing on internal evidence by Rev. Charles Foster in his 670 pp work, The Apostolic Authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews published by James Duncan in London in 1838. Let’s buck the trend!